More knife screening arches pledged for Notting Hill Carnival

By Aine Fox and Molly Lymn, PA

More than 12,000 police officers will be on the streets for Notting Hill Carnival this year, with “significantly more” knife arches in place at the popular event.

Around one million people are expected to attend the annual two-day celebration in west London over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Scotland Yard, which has been working with carnival organisers to ensure a “safe and spectacular” festival, has boosted the number of screening arches placed at various points around the area.

Superintendent Elisabeth Chapple from the Metropolitan Police did not say how many arches there will be, or where, but confirmed the number would be “significantly more” than last year.

Arches were used for the first time at the carnival in 2018 and detected offensive weapons including knives and other metal objects, she said.

Supt Chapple added: “We have a comprehensive policing operation for this year’s carnival. It’s going to be a fantastic event. We want to make sure that it’s safe and spectacular so we’re using a range of tactics including screening arches, using dogs, firearm teams and others.

“We found last year that the use of screening arches alongside other tactics and other teams that were used were really, really effective and so the number of arches has been increased this year.”

She said that the arches are a fantastic deterrent and also help the detection of offensive weapons.

Last year there were two non life-threatening stabbings over the carnival weekend, police said.

The number of officers at this year’s carnival – 12,427, reflecting the number of shifts worked over the course of the weekend – is slightly down on last year.

Officers will be supported by around 900 event stewards on Sunday and approximately 1,100 on the typically busier Monday.

Supt Chapple said officer numbers fluctuate from year to year and said security at the event is a team effort with the organisers.

Dancers at last year’s Notting Hill Carnival in west London (Yui Mok/PA)

She said: “We do have stewards from the fantastic organisers and also community ambassadors, again provided by the organisers. So together we’ve got a really great environment to keep people safe.”

Referencing recent attacks on police across the UK including the killing of Pc Andrew Harper in Berkshire last week, she said officer welfare is “always in our minds”.

She said: “Our people are the most important thing to us.

“Last year at carnival sadly 45 police officers were injured and we’ll be taking every step to make sure that doesn’t happen this year. The colleagues are there to look after each other and that’s a job they do very well.”

Matthew Phillip, the carnival’s executive director, said crime is “quite a small statistic in relation to the scale of the event” and said he wanted to highlight the positives around carnival, describing the longstanding event as a “symbol of community cohesion and unity”.

In a message to anyone who may attend the event with a weapon or the intent to commit a crime, he said: “Don’t come, you’re not welcome.”

He said visitors this year can expect more “amazing costumes” and “wonderful food”.

He said: “There will be live acts on the stages across carnival and we have 36 sound system sites for people to come along and enjoy music as well as all the wonderful food that will be on display.”

High temperatures are expected at this year’s event (John Stilwell/PA)

Supt Chapple advised people to be prepared for hot weather, with temperatures expected to reach 30C.

She said: “It is set to be a very warm weekend, so please make sure you stay hydrated and look after yourselves. We would also encourage anyone attending this year’s event to download the official Notting Hill Carnival 2019 app.

“You can find medical points, food stops and receive live updates on transport network delays.”

Again this year there will be 72 seconds of silence on both days in memory of those killed in the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

The tower block is within half a mile of the parade route.